Festive holiday meals are always an excellent opportunity to sample new wines and share them with your friends and family. As these meals often include a relatively large number of participants, this is also a good opportunity to uncork and serve several bottles throughout the meal, mixing, matching and pairing the different wines with the different dishes.
Following are four very different wines that would make a welcomed addition to any holiday table.
Pelter, Chardonnay, Unwooded, 2011 – The Pelter winery, situated in the Golan Heights, produces some fine white and red wines. While I enjoy a good Chardonnay with pleasant (and moderate) notes of toasted oak and butter (a result of the malolactic fermentation and barrel aging), over the past few years I have learned to appreciate Unwooded Chardonnays (wines that did not develop in oak casks) as well. Pelter’s version is one of the best I have tasted all summer. Crisp and refreshing with generous notes of green apples, tropical fruit, candied ginger and citrus zest, all coming together nicely and leading to a clean finish. 12.7% alcohol content also make this a rather food friendly wine.
Lueria, Rosso, 2010 – after years of selling their grapes to other wineries, the Seyda’s, a family of vintners from the Upper Galilee decided to produce wine and established the Lueria Winery. The Rosso 2010 is an interesting blend comprising Sangiovese, Barbera, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes with the “backbone” of the wine based on the two Italian grape varietals - hence the name Rosso – Italian for red. Ruby in color, medium bodied, with juicy aromas and flavors of red berry fruits (cherries and raspberries came to mind) followed by pleasant notes of dried herbs and dark chocolate leading to a medium-long finish. Serve with spaghetti & meat balls or other tomato based meat dishes.
Dalton, Reserve, Shiraz, 2009 – traditionally, one of my favorite wines from the Dalton Winery, the Shiraz Reserve 09 is definitely up to par. Predominately Shiraz with literally a dash (2%) of Viognier grapes as well, a blending style that is rather popular in the Northern parts of France’s Rhone Valley that helps extenuate the color and aromatic profile of the wine. Dark, almost garnet in color, a bit firm when first poured but then opens in the glass, suggesting layered aromas and flavors of dark berry fruits, black pepper and purple flowers. Good structure on the palate and a long and mouth-filling make this a very enjoyable vino. By the way, the wine recently received a gold medal in its category at the Challenge International Du Vin 2012 held in Boudreaux. Chapeau!
Golan Heights, Yarden, Muscat, 2010 – While I can’t say that this is my favorite dessert wine produced in Israel, when it comes to quality for cost (AKA value for money) ratio, the Yarden Muscat is definitely in my top five. As the wine is bottled in 0.5 liter bottles as opposed to the 0.375 bottles traditionally used to bottle dessert wines, this also becomes the ideal solution for holiday meals with multiple diners. Produced from Muscat of Alexandria grapes, the wines suggests aromas and flavors of tropical fruit, dried apricots, honey suckle and hints of vanilla in the background.
When serving dessert wines make sure that the wine is at least as sweet as the dessert served. If your dessert is sweeter than the wine, the wine will taste bitter after you take a bite of the dessert.